When former First Lady Michelle Obama sat down for an interview with Ellen DeGeneres on Thursday, she did more than just entertain the nation — she also soothed its fears.
In her first TV interview since leaving the White House, Obama was asked by a “frightened” DeGeneres for advice on how to cope in what she sees as a “very scary” world right now. Though the TV host didn’t mention any names, she appeared to be referring to the current state of politics under President Donald Trump’s administration.
“People are afraid,” Obama acknowledged. “But then there are people who feel good about the direction of the country. So that’s what makes this country complicated, because it’s made up of so many different people from different backgrounds. We are this mosh pit of society and sometimes there’s a rub.”
“But the thing that we have to remember, the thing I learned in the eight years that I was in the White House, was that what we do every day in our lives, the good things that we do every day — and we know we do it — we show empathy, we care for each other. We do have a lot in common,” Obama continued. “That’s what it means to lead with hope and not fear. And that’s all we have, is hope.”
The former first lady encouraged people to continue to “love each other, to take care of each other, to show empathy” — no matter how hard it may be at times.
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“You can’t do that only when people make you feel good or safe. We’ve got to do it all across the board. We have to be an open-hearted nation — and that’s who we are,” she said. “And that’s the truth of who we are, so you can’t lose sight of that. So let’s just keep living our lives like that every single day and forget what they’re saying in Washington. That’s not necessarily who we are. We know who we are and I know who this country is.”
Obama added that as first lady she visited many towns and cities across the country and said that even when people she met didn’t agree with her or her husband, “They were kind, they were hard-working, they were trying to the right things every day. And that’s what we have to remember about each other. That’s who we are.”